New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina Amtrak Train Numbers 79 (southbound) and 80 (northbound)
The Carolinian travels daily between New York City and Charlotte, NC. Currently both the north and south bound Carolinian leave the two cities in the morning and complete their journey mid-evening of the same day. The Carolinian and the regional Piedmont train, that runs between Raleigh and Charlotte, are financed and operated in partnership with the State of North Carolina.
Like many other southbound trains out of New York City, your journey begins with a ride down the busy Northeast Corridor to Alexandria where your travels through Virginia start. The first two Carolinian stops in Virginia are the former Palmetto stops of Quantico and Fredericksburg. Quantico is the home of the Quantico United States Marine Corps Reservation and Fredericksburg is where General Robert E. Lee’s Union troops won their first U.S. Civil War victory in December of 1862. From Fredericksburg you’ll head south to Richmond, the capitol city of the Commonwealth of Virginia and your last stop in Virginia, Petersburg, where you’ll find more interesting Civil War history, including that contained in three museums operated by the City.
In northeast North Carolina, you’ll cross the Tar River at Rocky Mount that purportedly derived its name from the rocky mound at the falls of the Tar River. When you get there make sure to befriend one of the volunteer “train hosts” that serve as North Carolina’s goodwill ambassadors on board the Carolinian. They’ll surely be able to tell you more about the next stop, Wilson, a railroad town founded along the Wilmington-Weldon Railroad line, and all the rest of the stops on down the road.
In Selma-Smithfield, the Palmetto and Silver Star head south for Savannah and Miami, but the Carolinian makes a right turn and heads northeast for Raleigh, the capitol city of the State of North Carolina. A short distance away is Cary, North Carolina. Between Raleigh and Cary you’ll travel on a common railroad corridor where the Norfolk & Southern and CSX railroads both own trackage. Cary is also where the Silver Star heads south for Southern Pines, North Carolina on it’s way to Tampa and Miami, Florida.
From Cary the Carolinian heads north to Durham where R.F. Morris opened its first tobacco factory in 1854. From Durham you’ll start traveling in a more westerly direction to Burlington, another city with railroad roots that later became a unionized textile center and was known as “Little Chicago” in the Great Depression era. You’ll continue through historic textile country and pass through Greensboro and High Point on your way to Salisbury. Ask your train host about the estranged political relationship that once prevailed between the cities of High Point and Greensboro. If you deboard in Salisbury make sure to visit the North Carolina Transportation Museum located on the site of what was once Southern Railway Company’s largest steam locomotive repair facility.
The town of Kannapolis, incorporated in 1984, and now home of the NC Research Center, is a stellar example of how North Carolina cities and towns along the Carolinian route have survived and grown from their agricultural, railroad and textile industry beginnings into the busy multifaceted communities that now exist there. The last stop is Charlotte and all passengers must deboard, so you’ll just have to get off and discover this metropolis for yourself!
The rail travel distance between New York and Charlotte is about 700 miles and the published rail travel time is about 13 hours.